Into The Woods


odessa_icon.gif waite_icon.gif woods_icon.gif

Scene Title Into the Woods
Synopsis Waite fulfills a promise to Odessa.
Date April 29, 2019

It’s been a few weeks since Odessa has been at PISEC. Whatever she had thought it was going to be like, well…we are not privy to her internal thoughts until and unless she shares them, but it’s probably safe to say that it isn’t as bad as she might have been expecting. She has a garden plot and whatever plants she’s requested for it — in fact, she pretty much gets whatever she requests, within reason.

Well, anything but the one request she’d made the first day. Maybe that isn’t within reason.

Meanwhile, she’s seem Waite around and talked to him about those various requests, but they haven’t really talked that much. He does seem to be around a lot, though, in the various locations where those sequestered here are — and not just to be seen, either. He’s a presence, steady but unobtrusive. The dad of PISEC, if you will. We’ve heard that somewhere before but we’ll pretend like we made it up. But he hasn’t sought her out specifically too much, except to give her whatever it is that she’s requested.

One day when she’s been there maybe three weeks, though, he shows up, clearly to talk to her specifically. “Ms. Price,” he says. “I hope you’re doing well. Would you like to take a trip?”

Crouched in her garden plot where she’s been tending to her plants, she looks up, at the sound of her name, rather than of the approach. Shaking dirt off the roots of the weed she’s just pulled, she adds it to a growing pile at her side and wipes her brow with the back of her wrist. There’s a smudge of dirt on her cheek, but it doesn’t seem to bother her.

“A trip?” Blue eyes stare up with uncertainty as she begins to peel off her gardening gloves. She doesn’t expect this is a request. She doesn’t know what to expect, except that she’s done something wrong. Or that they’ve decided they made a mistake and she’s about to be tossed in solitary or something. The other shoe has yet to drop and she’s been on edge waiting for it, despite her best efforts.

“Of course, sir.” Dropping the gloves into a bucket with her spade, she makes sure she takes a full step away from her tools when she gets to her feet. Her instincts still direct her to prove she means no harm. “And I’m fine, thank you for asking. The nasturtium,” she gestures to the colorful array of flowers in her garden, “are thriving.” Which is a bit like saying she is thriving, even if she does live with her perpetual worry.

Waite nods, and when she acquiesces, a little smile touches his face. “Good,” he says with a nod, and while it doesn’t seem like a non-request, well…he obviously arranged something, and obviously wants her to go. Or is forcing her to go. WHO KNOWS?!

He looks over the garden first, though, and his expression softens a little as his eyes move over the plot that is so different from the other ones — most of them looking like the sorts of things that were once treated very well, but only for what it could yield for whoever tended it, and once that yield had been harvested, left to go to seed. Some of them have become a little wild, some of them have died, but Waite is certainly not keeping up with any of them — he’s not a gardener, possibly.

“This is looking lovely.” The simple expression of appreciation is not the most eloquent of statements, but the sentiment is clear. He looks a little bit out of place sincerely admiring a garden in one of his usual impeccable suits, but if you’re going to wear an impeccable suit everywhere, you have to expect to look a little weird in some places.

He looks back to Odessa again, and says, “If you’d like some time to get ready, go ahead and do that, and come to my office when you’re finished. I’ve arranged a trip to Liberty Island, as you requested.” In other words, she’s going to see Woods.

The woman goes very still, eyes wide. Her mouth drops open into a small o shape of surprise. She’d never expected to get her request granted. Or at least hadn’t dared to hope. Odessa nods her head quickly and repeatedly. “Really?” She doesn’t wait for him to confirm. She doesn’t expect Waite to be the type to pull her chain like that. “Yes, sir. I’ll go get changed and I’ll be right to your office.” It’s not like she can put on her Sunday best or anything, but at least she can put on a uniform that doesn’t have dirt caked at the knees and she can wash her face.

Dipping down, she misses the handle of her bucket on the first swipe, so shaken with her nerves as she is. The second grab is successful and she nods again, a big smile spreading across her face. “Thank you, sir.” It’s about all she can do to keep from running instead of calmly walking back toward her room to freshen up.

The smile on Waite’s face widens a little bit at the reaction — so really very like a dad who’s gotten his kid the right present this time, especially when maybe he doesn’t always get his kids the right presents every time. Maybe that’s making little of the actual trip, but you try being a dad who’s spent a lifetime getting your kid the wrong present and see how you feel about it.

In any case, he nods, and says, “All right. Take your time.” He turns away then, presumably to start toward his office.

It’s a bit of a production to get Odessa to Liberty Island — she can’t just go, after all. There’s not quite a caravan of vehicles, but there are several, with armed guards in each, including the one she’s sitting in. Despite the fact that she’s basically getting everything she’s asking for, it’s hard to forget that she’s not someone who can just go on a trip. But maybe the destination is good enough to bear the journey.

Two Hours Later

Liberty Island Detention Center

NYC Safe Zone

April 29th


Waite is in the car with her, but while he will certainly answer her if she talks to him, and pleasantly, he doesn’t necessarily try to make conversation. He takes a call during, too, something that sounds innocuous on his end; not significant. It’s only when their car is being disembarked from the ferry across the Hudson, only when they’re this close that he turns to her to speak.

“You’ll have a couple of hours,” he says. “I don’t want to rush you, but we do need to be back by a certain time. Beyond that, we’ll try to give you as much privacy as we can.”



Odessa’s not quite as stunned as she was when he first let on about where they were going, but the pot keeps being sweetened and she clearly still does not know how to process that. Beyond more murmured thank you sirs and genuine smiles.

The best part of the surprise trip, in her mind, is that they aren’t making her take another helicopter ride. Though she’d have braved it for this. This is one gift horse she won’t be looking in the mouth by any stretch.

“I’m grateful for this, sir. Truly.” She also hasn’t tried to make much conversation. What does she really have to talk about? It seems a little awkward yet to chatter happily about her family, though she’ll certainly get there. He’s seen the drawings given by her niece and nephew, and obviously is aware of the visitor roster. Even war criminals have family and friends, it seems.

And she’s been so polite and innocuous, it’s hard to believe, sometimes, that she’s the woman who looks so awful on paper. Or maybe not. It may depend on how familiar one is with her case. Never once does she seem to suggest that the guards that have been employed for this venture may be excessive. She may have lost her power and may be negated out of precaution, but Odessa is never powerless.

Waite settles back a little bit against the seat to get more comfortable, crossing one leg over the other. One of the advantages of being small. “Well, you’re welcome,” he says, “but you don’t need to be that grateful because it wasn’t that difficult. You can save it for something really big.” It sounds like a joke, though — he has a pretto good deadpan, but there’s humor in his eyes, or a glimpse of it, anyway.

“You also don’t need to call me ‘sir,’ unless you want to,” he continues. “It’s up to you, but we’re in this for the long haul, right? So whatever makes you comfortable is probably going to work better. Sebastian is fine. Or Waite. I answer to either.” He glances out the window briefly then, just in time to see their destination. “It’s hard to imagine this being a place you’d miss,” he remarks, though his tone is very wry, and he clearly realizes the implications of what he’s saying when he says he misses it. No one who’s in there would miss it if they got out.

The humor is met with another smile and a similar look from Odessa. “Got it. Next time, I’m asking for a pony.” That’s almost probably a joke. But she might have to try it sometime just to see what happens. Not that Odessa’s particularly good with animals or has any actual desire to ride a horse.

To the invitation to call him by his given name, the blonde presses her lips together, considering that for a moment. “Sorry,” she offers, even though she’s fairly sure he doesn’t need her apology, “it’s just… You know.” She’s a prisoner and he’s the warden. Sir seems appropriate. “I’ll try to be a little less formal. You can call me Odessa, if you like.” Even now, she’s still unused to being called Ms. Price.

His comment causes her to look down at her hands clasped in her lap, a breath of laughter passing her lips. “I know what you mean. Those sterile rooms with their slatted windows… Hard to beat that aesthetic.” She can kid, too. She does not miss Liberty Island herself.

The mention of a pony makes Waite laugh, and he reaches up to rub his face, shaking his head. “My son asked for a pony once,” he says. “That was the first Christmas where he was disappointed, but it wasn’t the last.”

He shifts a little bit on the seat, but not too much before he stills again as they turn in to make the last few feet of the journey. “Odessa,” he continues, as though trying it out, before he nods. “All right.” There’s a little snort, too, at the comment about the decor in Liberty Island, and he nods again as though acknowledging a well-placed hit.

The car pulls to a stop, and Waite…well, waits…until everyone is in place around the car and one of them opens the door for Odessa. Then he gets out as well, and the entourage starts to move toward the building. It definitely looks much more like a prison — PISEC is a step up, however small. She is surrounded by the guards, but he moves to take the lead as they enter the facility. The usual security precautions — and some unusual ones, too, considering abilities and such — are passed through, before they start to make the trek toward wherever it is that she’s going to have her visit.

When they’re presumably almost there, Waite stops, turning back to her. “Take your time,” he says. “I have a few things I need to take care of.” With that, he steps away, saying something very low to one of the guards around her and peeling off for them to take the final steps without him.

“Kids are tough,” Odessa offers sympathetically. She certainly hasn’t had any herself, but she’s known enough fathers and mothers to know that parenting isn’t easy. It’s a problem she’d like to have herself someday. Not that she’ll ever have the chance.

When the car pulls to a stop, Odessa flashes a nervous glance in Waite’s direction. Now that they’re back in this place, it’s real. There’s a surge of giddiness that manifests as a brief and shaky smile on her face before she quashes it again.

Exiting the vehicle slowly and carefully, she follows along behind Waite with her hands clasped together in front of her. When he pauses, she takes a half-skipping step back to avoid running into his back, distracted by her own thoughts as she was. “Yes, sir — Sebastian.” Odessa grimaces. “Mr. Waite.” That feels the better compromise for now. “Thank you.”

She watches his back for a moment as he heads in the other direction, then tears her gaze away to stare down the remaining length of the hall. She resumes her march with a spring in her step. She wants to run toward the door to throw it open and rush in, but she knows better to make any move that might look like she’s attempting to lose her guard detail. Instead, she stands at the doorway, patient as it’s unlocked to allow her entry.

Taking in a deep breath once the door is opened, Odessa steps over the threshold and into the room.

The concrete walls of Liberty Island’s detention center are too familiar to Odessa. Not in just that she spent some time here in confinement, but that it reminds her of Level 5. The Company’s brutalist industrial aesthetic may not be quite as sharply focused here, but it still feels like a holding cell for indefinite time. The room they’ve arranged for her and Woods isn’t a cell, but it is a solitary interrogation room, the kind without an observation mirror, the kind where it’s just one person and one interrogator.

There’s one table, two chairs, and one man waiting for Odessa inside. Neither party, or perhaps both, will be the interrogator.

James Woods looks thin. That’s the first thing Odessa recognizes when she sees him sitting facing the door in a drab gray jumpsuit with a serial number printed on the chest. He’s handcuffed, though not restrained to the table. His hair has grown out some since they last saw one-another, but not to the wild and unkept extremes that his self in the flooded world had. He’s also managed to keep up a good shave. He’s wearing glasses too. That’s new across all permutations of Woods she’s familiar with, and she’s familiar with them all.

“An’ here I was half expecting Sylar or somethin’,” Woods says with an awkward laugh, looking down to his restraints. “I mean, folks told me he’s dead. But you know how that is,” is a little bit of gallows humor given their circumstances. “Dead isn’t always dead.” He grimaces, apologetically.

“You look well.” Woods manages, weakly.

“Believe me,” Odessa responds, “I keep expecting the same thing. Dead means… Inconvenienced,” is supposed to be a joke, but she only manages the faintest of smiles for it.

Slowly, she moves into the room, toward the table, but she stays standing at the end of it, rather than moving to place it between them. As her eyes linger over the handcuffs, she wonders if they’re afraid he might hurt her. She has no such concern.

“You look like you need to eat a sandwich,” she teases, but the tears are already starting to well up in her eyes. “If I look well, it’s all thanks to you, you know.” She doesn’t move to take a seat, instead coming to stand at his side. One hand reaches out tentatively, but doesn’t quite touch his shoulder. Like she’s afraid he’ll turn to smoke if she attempts to make sure he’s real. Afraid to spoil the illusion.

“You saved my life.”

Woods doesn’t look comfortable with that mantle draped over his shoulders. He lowers his head, looks down to his restraints, and then over at one of the walls rather than Odessa. “I told the truth, that could’ve just as well got you bloody killed for all I know.” He reluctantly looks back over at her, lifting his hands to push his glasses up the bridge of his nose.

“They have sandwiches here,” Woods admits, grimacing. “I eat. Sandwiches.” He looks down at the table awkwardly. “I spent a lot of time in a place that had a bloody cafeteria but didn’t exactly sell me on their meals. It’s gonna take a lot of fattenin’ up before I’m ready t’go into the oven.” He says with a marked gallows humor, looking back up to Odessa.

“Don’t waste this,” Woods says to interject over his own dark thoughts, and for a moment it feels like he means this moment in time. But he doesn’t. “Living,” he clarifies. “I believe y’did all those things they said in the court. Don’t waste… the only chance you have left…” Please, goes unsaid as he looks down to the table again.

At first, Odessa tips her head to one side, gaze sympathetic and about to say something reassuring about his testimony not being a danger to her. Instead, her heart sinks. It never occurred to her that he might look at her and believe she’s the monster that the ICC prosecutor painted her to be.

It doesn’t help she provided the majority of that paint herself.

Odessa sinks down into the chair across from Woods, unable to look at him for a long moment. Instead, she simply looks haunted. “I don’t plan to.” Waste it. “I spent the years after the war trying to… Trying to do some good.” She tears her gaze away from the middle distance and brings it back to his face. “That’s a trend I want to continue.”

One of her hands slides across the table to rest in the space midway between them. “James…”

He doesn’t reach out. Not with his hands, but perhaps in a way with his eyes. Woods regards that hand for a long, silent moment and then closes his eyes and turns his head away. “I saw a lot of things,” he explains with tension evident in his voice. “Visions. Places, things. I remember the panic in the lab, scientists trying to figure out if someone manifested something strange. I remember them running tests on me.” He looks back up to Odessa, having steeled himself.

“Des— Odessa,” Woods struggles to keep the names straight, “I’m not who you think I am. I’m not even bloody well sure you’re who I think you are. The line between us is a blurry fucking thing, made even fuzzier by the fact that I have a hard time separating all the would-haves and might-have-beens. I wasn’t even sure if the woman on the stand was you, or just…” He searches for a way to explain it. “Or just a you.” From the look in his eyes, it doesn’t seem like he’s sure of that even now.

“I’ve spent nearly eleven years as a prisoner. As a lab rat.” Woods breaks away from the moment of sentimentality. “I was in Institute custody while you were working for them, doin’ what they did to me to other people who weren’t me. You deserve t’be in here,” is a crushing thing to hear him say, “but I’ve t’believe there’s some small fuckin’ part of you that really is capable of change. But that self-serving— that coldness? I saw it in all’f you.” Woods looks down to his lap. “I just have t’believe you can change. Y’didn’t deserve t’die.”

That offered hand isn’t withdrawn, but it’s turned palm down to rest on the table. Odessa doesn’t try to hide the way his words devastate her. “I— I didn’t—” Her eyes squeeze shut, tears that had welled up fall down her cheeks. There’s no defense for why she didn’t just leave the Institute beyond fear and a desire to destroy them from the inside for selfish reasons. “If I’d known… I spent years thinking you were dead. I watched you die over and over again.” Not her, but other versions of her. The line is blurry, as he’s said.

“You’re who I remember,” she insists. “You knew… You understood what was done to me in ways I couldn’t articulate. You’ve… You’ve seen who I could have become if I’d had the life I…” Deserved? Maybe she didn’t deserve the loving parents. She certainly doesn’t feel like it right now. Destiny Price-Ruiz was an entirely different person.

“I am changing. I can change.” She fixes her stare on him again, eyes begging him to believe her. To believe in her. “They…” Her gaze roams his face, his form, comes back up to his eyes. “They managed to give you an ability, didn’t they?” They had to have, or they wouldn’t be having this conversation. His cells would have broken down by now.

Slowly, Woods nods and closes his eyes. He doesn't affirm anything save for that last part, that last question. The rest of it, she already knows as truth. “They gave me someone else’s,” is a confusing statement from Woods, at first. “I was one of their last human test subjects. Most of them… didn't survive, from what I heard. Doctor Allen, she talked about the work she was doing… what they were making her do. She didn't want to.” Just like Odessa, to an extent.

“They took an ability from another person,” Woods reiterates. “We were restrained in adjacent chairs, pumped full of… of some blue liquid.” The moment he says that, Odessa is struck by a vivid memory.

"P— please don't kill me," is both a plea from the doctor, as well as confirmation that he does in fact speak English. However much the crazy one-eyed woman with a gun wants.

Veronica's search reveals one atrocity after another. No two of the experiments look the same, save for the rubbery quality of their flesh, their swollen and bloated nature and the sickening blue glow in their veins. Most of them have breathing tubes shoved down their throats, other hoses and tubing surgically implanted through shunts into their bodies. The machines they're hooked up to function like a dialysis machine, but instead of purifying blood, they intravenously feed a system with whatever luminous chemical is being force-fed to them.

Each of them are a different age, three men and two women. None of them under the age of twenty, presumably. No one young enough to be Amid Halebi's daughter.

Tajikistan, 2011. Goodman’s search for Lucine Halebi.

“They robbed him— whoever he was— of his ability and it transferred to me. It burned like fire in my veins…” Woods looks down at his hands. “They made me indestructible. Bulletproof, needle-proof. I went from test subject to… Superman. Instantly.” He smiles, faintly. “They didn't have a way to negate me after that. So I was kept in solitary. Turns out there's an oral negation drug out here, two pills a day keeps the Superman at bay.”

The joke falls flat, and Woods looks up from his hands. “I don't know much more about it than that. Doctor Allen and that older woman— never got her name— were the only ones I ever really talked to.” He's treating it like an interrogation, after a fashion. “I was sure I was going to wind up cherry cobbler,” comes with a faint smile again. “But here I bloody am. Somehow.”

Against all odds, if nearly every other timeline is an indication.

Odessa’s eyes grow wide at the recounting of what was done to Woods and the memory of what was done to so many others. “My god…” A hand comes up and covers her mouth as it gapes slightly. The horror of what he must have went through is enough to bring more tears.

Slowly, her hand lowers and she presses her lips together in a thin line. Her brows knit together over her blue eyes. “I think I can get you out of here.” Out of one frying pan and into another, admittedly, but she hated this place. She can’t imagine he likes it much better. “I think I can get you transferred to PISEC. I— If you want to be. It’s… nice there. If you can believe that. Nicest prison I’ve ever been caged in anyway.”

It feels strange, talking about a prison in good terms, but if anyone knows a life in captivity, it’s Odessa Price. “Please say you’ll let me try.”

“I don’t think I can,” Woods says without much conviction. “Isn’t that for eggheads?” He asks with a hint of good nature left in him. “The only eggs I’ve ever been much good with are scrambled and hard-boiled, and I’m not sure your uh, Pie-place is looking for a life-in-prison treason chef.” He smiles, awkwardly, then looks down to his lap. For a moment, it looks like he might say something charming and light-hearted to break the tension, but that look in his eyes fades. His shoulders slouch forward, and there’s defeat in his eyes instead.

“It’s called prison for a reason, Odessa…” Woods shakes his head at the notion. “I’m here because I bloody well violated people for a living. I’ve killed people, I’ve imprisoned people for the crime of being different, I followed orders like a jack-booted Nazi even when I knew bloody-well better.” That has his voice hitching in his throat. That, the failure to adhere to his own moral compass hits him the hardest. He looks up to Odessa with tears in his eyes. “I don’t deserve leniency. I may not be Bob Bishop, but I did just as many bad things knowing full well they were bad.” His hands close into fists, brows furrowed. “An’ I shouldn’t even be alive.”

“You’re right,” Odessa says without hesitation. “You shouldn’t be.” She knows how this went. She knows what was supposed to have happened and why it’s fucking impossible for him to be seated across the table from her right now. “But you are. If you don’t want me to waste the life I’ve got, then you can’t go and waste yours either.”

She reaches out to grasp his hands across the table. “You’re a good person, James. You just… You did the wrong things for reasons you thought were good. They told us the world was sick.” At least, that’s what Adam had always told her. “They told us we could save it. You wouldn’t have done the same things if they’d told you the goal was to…” She swallows hard and shakes her head, just taking a moment to let tears run down her face.

“The process worked on you.” Her voice is dangerously quiet now, sharing this conspiracy between the two of them. “You want to make things right? You can help me figure out how I can save lives. We can both try to do something good with the hands we’ve dealt for ourselves.”

She knows exactly what she’s suggesting. Her lips quiver as she forms the words. “I can study it. What was done to you.” It’s the best shot she’s got at having him transferred. “Please…”

“So you want me to trade a prison for a lab table?” Woods asks with a hurt look in his eyes, as if all the years he spent as a specimen for the Institute was somehow no longer in the rear view mirror, but barreling back toward him. The question, ultimately, is a rhetorical one. Because Woods laughs in that bitter way people do when they don’t actually find something funny. He slouches, head hung and shoulders slack, staring into his lap.

“That’s the fucking piss, isn’t it?” Woods’ lips curl into a rueful smile. “Here I am, tried an’ convicted, an’ my only ray of bloody sunshine…” Looking up, Woods levels a terribly conflicted look on Odessa. It’s heavy, burdensome. But also, it feels personal. “My only bloody hope is t’step out of my shoes…” Deeply personal. “An’ live your old life. In a glass box.”

“That’s not— ” It’s exactly what she was asking. Even if she believes it’s different with her. Different because of her. Odessa feels sick and it shows in her pale face. “This place is awful. I can’t… I can’t just leave you here.” Even if that’s exactly what she must do. Exactly what he wants her to do.

Her gaze shifts toward the door, almost nervous, then slides back to him. “I’d say it’s not so bad, but you’re probably the only person who understands just how bad it was. PISEC is the nicest gilded cage I’ve ever had the misfortune to occupy. I don’t know what the fuck that says about me and…” The train of thought is lost. There wasn’t really a point to the comment. She can’t sweeten this pot enough to entice James Woods to leave the frying pan…

“I can’t lose you again.”

Again, her gaze shifts to the door. This time it opens. Odessa is on her feet in an instant and dashing toward the guard. The move was unexpected, and she’s able to slam him into the wall and relieve him of his weapon. One shot to the chest sees him dropping to the floor.

Odessa doesn’t need her ability to be dangerous.

“Get up!” she demands of the shackled man. “We’re getting out of here.”

They wouldn’t be the first to shoot their way out of Liberty Island.

…But she can’t sweeten this pot enough to entice James Woods to leave the frying pan.

But she’s sitting across from him, shaking away the fantasy of going Bonnie and Clyde. The door is closed. The guard is alive. The world is righted.

“I can’t lose you again.”

Woods’ expression is a flat mask. The conflict evident in it is clear. He looks down to the table, to the scuffs different handcuffs buffed into the surface over the years. His swallow is audible, tension palpable. When he looks up at her, he’s holding his breath.

I can’t lose you again.

“I’m sorry.”

Because she is.

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